• Choosing Breeding Stock

    There are several aspects to look at when considering purchasing breeding stock, whether you are a new breeder or an experienced one. While any male or female CAN be bred, not all SHOULD.

    Pedigree- A good solid pedigree is a very important consideration. Your hedgehog should come with a pedigree from a trusted breeder, with at LEAST 3 generations of parentage, with all of those ancestors being healthy and free of any genetic flaws. If possible, look for even more generations, a pedigree of 8 generations would be wonderful, however, is not always available. You should NEVER breed a hedgehog that has had a verified case of WHS anywhere in its' pedigree, or even the siblings of any of the ancestors. WHS (wobbly hedgehog syndrome) is an incurable progressive disease that eventually ends in death by complications. This disease is often seen to run in family lines, and if a case has been confirmed by a knowledgeable research professional, it is a good idea to avoid the potential for passing on. A pedigree that includes colors can also help out when looking at potential color production, though is not completely reliable unless you have at least 8 generations.

    Age- Hedgehogs should never be purchased before 6 weeks of age,but there are also upper limits when considering breeding.Just like pets, it is preferable to purchase a breeding animal by about 12 weeks, but sometimes older animals become available. Males can be ready to breed at around 4 months, and can often go until death. HOWEVER, a male over the age of 3 or so has the potential to be losing potency, and while they may still get the girls pregnant part of the time, the litter sizes may shrink. Females shouldn't be bred before 6 months old, and should have their first litter by 18 months, or the risk of complications increases greatly. I personally would not purchase a female for breeding purposes that is over the age of two, because the average retirement age for breeding females is around 2 1/2.

    Health- While minor health ailments that are promptly treated can be kept from affecting breeding ability, there are more major health ailments that I would strongly consider refusing a purchase over. Mites, minor skin infections, minor wounds and wound infections, and other non-lifethreatening issues should not be a problem, as long as they were properly treated and cured. Some tumors can also be in this group, as long as they were removed before organs were affected and were not treated with harsh chemicals. HOWEVER, this is another time that you need to check the pedigree, because if a certain tumor pops up frequently in a family line, that family COULD be genetically prone to that, and it would be a good idea to not pass this on. Any disease, illness, or medication that causes any form of organ involvement, mobility difficulty, eating problems, or any long term health effects should be a good clue to avoid that animal for breeding, because it could be further damaged by the breeding processes.

    Appearance- It is recommended to find breeding animals that are as close to ideal as possible, to increase the chances of producing high quality babies. Briefly, hedgehog should be a teardrop body shape in preference to long and slim or completely round. Their faces should be short and wide, and not "ratty". Ears should be even and level, legs should be set at the "corners" of the hedgehog, and no other obvious physical malformation should be viewed.

    Temperament- Parents with good temperament are going to be more likely to produce babies of good temperament. While this can sometimes not be the case with animals who were friendly at first and then lost their good temperament through neglect or abuse, it is not a good idea to breed animals who are completely unfriendly or aggressive.

    Family Breeding History- Females from lines who produce large litters tend to produce large litters. Females from lines who produce one or two babies per litter are likely to follow that trend as well. It is also thought that females who had excellent moms that raised large litters, were easy going, and fed babies well are more likely to take after their moms, and females who had crappy moms that were lucky to raise any babies at all are less likely to do well, though that hasn't been proven by statistics, it is still something to consider.

    Color- This is more of an amusement factor than an actual requirement. Be aware that what you see is NOT what you get when breeding for hedgehog colors, but looking at the pedigree colors of an animal can at least narrow down your options. A hedgehog with multiple generations of apricot or cinnacot ancestors with no standards present is not likely to produce standards. Same with standard ancestors producing apricots. HOWEVER, be aware that if there is ONE mis-matched ancestor up to 8 generations back, that color can come through anyway. If you want to breed for a certain color range, then choose breeding stock with as many of that range as possible. If you like rainbow litters (which can be REALLY fun), then look for a wide color variety in the pedigree.